Play as a Learning Tool
Learning and developing social skills is no joke, but the process of learning can be enhanced by adding humor and levity. Improv theater teaches kids a number of highly important skills such as: working together, risk management, positivity, healthy boundaries, self-expression, verbal expression, creativity, and confidence. Improv is taught almost exclusively through games and play. You don't tell kids to make eye contact - you set up a game that they can be successful at only if they make eye contact. The process of keeping the stakes low and letting kids just enjoy, experiment, get things wrong, and find their own creative voices makes for a very rich and positive learning experience.
This goes doubly for kids on the autism spectrum and for kids that are high risk, populations which thrive when taking away the ideas of wrong and right and instead promoting the value of "let's see how it works." Parents of special needs kids at the Hideout Theater have told us that their kids are more resilient, more patient, able to manage their emotions better, and are more able to express themselves appropriately in social situations. In this talk we will discuss how to inject play into your family and learning environments to create a more rich and happy learning experience.
Jessica Arjet is a Co-Owner & Youth Programs Director of the Hideout Theater. She developed her program for neurotypical kids in 2006 and in 2011 began expanding the program for kids on the spectrum. She produces, directs, and even gets to act in improv shows for both children and adults in Austin & around the U.S.